Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Advent and Other (International Celebrations

Advent and Other (International) Celebrations at the Motherhouse
You know that saying, “Time flies when you’re having fun”?  Well, my brother says, “Time flies when you’re old.”  As for me I must be both having fun and getting old!  Here we are already 10 days into Advent – Happy Advent!  – and feeling (falling) behind or catching up.  …but all is good!
The month of December seems to quickly get filled up with all sort of events.  Fortunately, the Church has Advent, a time of awareness of the true Reason for the Season and can pull us from the commercialized hustle and bustle of Black Friday sales and shopping crowds.  
We, of course, celebrate the Advent Season with the Church here at Marywood, but we also celebrate each of the following Feast Days one way or another.  As I was gathered information and a summary on each one of these, I noticed how international these are.   Below is a brief summary of December Feast Days (Source: Wikipedia):
December 6 – Feast of St Nicholas:

Very little is known about the historical Saint Nicholas. The earliest accounts of his life were written centuries after his death and contain many legendary elaborations. He is said to have been born in the Greek seaport of Patara, Lycia in Asia Minor to wealthy Christian parents.  In one of the earliest attested and most famous incidents from his life, he is said to have rescued three girls from being forced into prostitution by dropping a sack of gold coins through the window of their house each night for three nights so their father could pay a dowry for each of them.  We left our shoes out on the Eve of the Feast of St Nicholas and we were not disappointed, as we each received a nice treat! 😊
December 8 – Feast of the Immaculate Conception: In 2008 we celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Blessed Virgin’s apparitions at Lourdes, France where she identified herself to St. Bernadette as the Immaculate Conception. In 2004 we observed the 150th anniversary of Blessed Pope Pius IX’s solemn definition of this dogma on December 8, 1854.  Because December 8th fell on a Sunday this year, the Feast was celebrated on Monday, December 9th.

December 9 – Feast of Saint Juan Diego: Saint Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, also known as Juan Diego (1474–1548), a native of Mexico, is the first Roman Catholic indigenous saint from the Americas.  He is said to have been granted an apparition of the Virgin Mary on four separate occasions in December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac, then a rural area but now within the borders of Mexico City.  Juan Diego was beatified in 1990 and canonized in 2002. As mentioned above, this year the Feast of the Immaculate Conception took precedence.
December 12 – Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe: If you do not know the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, she appeared to Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531, and this is the only apparition of Mary in which she has left an image of her appearance on his tilma (a cloak made of cactus fiber). Similar cloths tested have become ruined by the local moist and salty air in a period of 10 years. The original image is in Mexico City.  I was blessed to have the opportunity to visit her at the Basílica in 1980.  There are several books written about Our Lady of GuadalupeWe will have ‘Las Mañanitas’ at Aquinata Hall in St Catherine of Siena Chapel this Thursday, December 12th following by Liturgy of the Eucharist.

December 16 – 24 Posadas: Las Posadas is a novena (nine days of religious observance)
celebrated chiefly in Latin America, Mexico, Guatemala, Cuba, and by many Hispanics in the United States  Beginning 16 December and ending 24 December, two people dress up as Mary and Joseph. Certain houses are designated to be an "inn" (thus the name "Posada"). The head of the procession will have a candle inside a paper lampshade. At each house, the resident responds by singing a song and Mary and Joseph are finally recognized and allowed to enter. Once the "innkeepers" let them in, the group of guests come into the home and kneel around the Nativity scene to pray (typically, the Rosary).  Latin American countries have continued to celebrate this holiday to this day, with very few changes to the tradition.  In some places, the final location may be a church instead of a home.  The people asking for posada travel to 1 house each night for 9 nights
Earlier this month, Sr. Angelina Gonzales gave a wonderful presentation on Los Posadas at Aquinata Hall.
December 17 – 23 O Antiphons: The O Antiphons, also known as “The Great ‘O’s” are Magnificat used at Vespers of the last seven days of Advent in Western Christian traditions. They are also used as the Alleluia Verses on the same days in the post-1970 form of the Catholic Mass.
They are referred to as the "O Antiphons" because the title of each one begins with the vocative particle "O". Each antiphon is a name of Christ, one of his attributes mentioned in Scripture. They are:
·         17 December: O Sapientia (O Wisdom)
·         18 December: O Adonai (O Lord)
·         19 December: O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse)
·         20 December: O Clavis David (O Key of David)
·         21 December: O Oriens (O Dayspring)
·         22 December: O Rex Gentium (O King of the Nations)
·         23 December: O Emmanuel (O God is With Us)

The first letters of the titles, from last to first, appear to form a Latin acrostic which translates to "Tomorrow, I will be [there]", mirroring the theme of the antiphons.  "According to Robert Greenberg of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the Benedictine monks arranged these antiphons with a definite purpose.

If one starts with the last title and takes the first letter of each one – Emmanuel, Rex, Oriens, Clavis, Radix, Adonai, Sapientia – the Latin words ero cras are formed, meaning, "Tomorrow, I will come". Therefore, the Lord Jesus, whose coming we have prepared for in Advent and whom we have addressed in these seven Messianic titles, now speaks to us, Tomorrow, I will come. So, the O Antiphons not only bring intensity to our Advent preparation but bring it to a joyful conclusion. At Dominican Chapel Marywood, each evening begins with a contemplative candlelight procession, then moves into the singing of hymns and psalms; the proclamation of scripture; and a reflection on the theme of each sacred evening. Join us in union with the global community, as we wait in holy anticipation.  Free to the community - all are welcome. Come to one or all evenings. For more information, go to this link:

Do you celebrate any of these with your family or at your parish?
Advent Blessings! 
Are you discerning Religious Life? 
Do you wish to speak with someone about your discernment?
Call us!  Visit us!  Email us!
Dominican Sisters ~ Grand Rapids
2025 Fulton Street East
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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